February 1 -- "I'm Rick James, Bitch!"


That's right...

February 1, 1948 marks the born date of James Ambrose Johnson, Jr. -- professionally known as Rick James.

Much has been said of the professional life of Rick James.
A great lot of it is lost when we allow ourselves to talk about drugs, promiscuity and the resulting legal issues instead of what might be more important.

What is often left out is that he dropped out of high school and joined the National Guard to avoid being drafted, and even then wound up needing to run to Canada to lead his band.

Whenever someone mentions the great musicians of our time, I am quick to throw Rick James’ name in the conversation, right up there with Prince – who I rate higher than MJ, for the record – and the like. Why, you ask?
Well…
As an assembler of talent, multi-instrument-playing ability, singer, dancer, producer and WRITER – which allowed us to forget such things like the fact that Teena Marie’s voice was not so great – Rick James was an entertainer par excellence. Again, his name is one I would put against ANYONE, given his showmanship.

Shame that his renaissance would have to come so late, the number of recent (1985 and after) births who would have never known who he was without a certain David Chappelle and Charlie Murphy, whose loosely-based-upon-almost-true events skit introduced Rick’s name back into the popular lexicon for reasons other than petty lawsuits handled on television court shows.
Shame/sadness is more derivative in that Rick was only able to use the return of his good name for approximately 6 more months prior to his passing.

I read somewhere on the internets a few years back that people at the cemetery where he is buried frequently have to clean blunt roaches from near his grave, where idiots have decided that it would be a good idea to “smoke one with the old boy Rick James” from the other side…

Anyway, I am here to kick off Black History Month, and Rick James is surely a part of black history… Given that February 1st is his day, today is his entry.

Happy birthday and rest in power, Rick!

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